After yesterday’s 20 mile run, I thought for sure my legs would be tight, tired, sore, and unrelenting as I began my run today. The only thing they were was a little stiff, and stretching helped work that out. I chose to take Murphy with me to the state park today to navigate the trails since I was supposed to be taking it easy after yesterday’s long run. Murphy and I managed to complete 7.44 miles in 1:28:08, which is considerably slower than yesterday. But I did let Murphy be the navigator today, and that included stopping to sniff, him squatting or aiming while standing on 3 legs, and saying hello to every dog, man, woman, and child as we went along the trail.
Murphy is definitely tired after today’s adventure, but they say a tired dog is a good dog, right? The last of the trails I had to navigate to get familiar with the course of the ultra is the same one that I rolled my ankle on last weekend. Murphy was careful in navigating over tree roots, between trees, around tree stumps, and carefully over the 8 bridges that I counted along our way. Those 8 bridges I will have to go over 2 times each during the ultra, and I wanted to be sure I knew where they began and ended since some of them have to be stepped up to and down from… not an easy feat when running 31.07 miles on tired legs!
As we traveled the trail, I realized how grateful I am for Murphy and my friends. Murphy gave me a different perspective as we traveled this windy, tricky, tree-rooted, wet, hilly trail… he always manages to show me that it’s the small things that count, and when you slow down enough, you will see them. I am grateful for my friends because without their constant support, encouragement, and time running with me, I don’t think I’d be where I am right now. I think about the 20 mile run I completed yesterday, and how I did the same run last year, and was whooped afterwards. Yesterday, I did 20 miles, and I felt good and strong afterwards- what a world of difference. I know I am in considerably better shape than I was last year, and that I have pushed the capacity of my endurance, breathing, muscle memory, and distance beyond what I ever thought I could do. This is the proof: last year, I ran 20 miles on the ROAD in 4:04, and was exhausted afterwards. This year, I ran 20 miles on the TRAILS with wind, hills, water soaked paths, sand dunes, tree roots, etc. in my way, and finished in 3:26. I cut 38 minutes of time off my 20 mile training run in ONE year. ONE year!!!! I feel like I could have completed the additional 6.2 miles yesterday. And I dare say that if I had, I would’ve completed the marathon distance at around 4:30. That’s a tremendous improvement from where I was last year in my training for my first marathon. I know I have come a long way in 4 years with my half marathon training, but this is just ONE year, and it’s MARATHON distance. It just blows my mind.
Determination definitely fuels my fire. Without it, I would not be where I am. I realize that a lot in life is out of my control, and I am not at peace with that. I also realize that I need to focus on taking care of me (and Murphy), and let other things happen how fate wants them to happen. Running IS in my control. And no matter how many pairs of shoes I wear out, how many pair of socks lose their elasticity, how many holes I wear in my running gear, I WILL NOT abandon running. It is the one constant that I CAN control. And I will. Live. Love. Run. Passionately.